Van Berlo, Thompson, Estep and Dickinson Contend for Pro Honors
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BRASELTON, Ga. – The 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands season ends this week with Rounds 15 and 16 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and the one-make series has enjoyed remarkable growth in its second season in all areas.
That continued success includes on-track action with 35 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars entered. Championships in the three classes and the entrants title are all undecided as practice began Wednesday. The 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course with its long straights, sweeping corners, technical turns and elevation changes cut through the red Georgia clay northeast of Atlanta plays host to the final two 40-minute races of the series’ second year. With four drivers capable of capturing the Pro class title, two in the Pro-Am category and three in the Am class – all racing the same type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car directly based on the road-going Porsche 911 GT3 – it all comes down to this weekend.
Seven months ago, the sophomore year for the premier single make race series opened at Sebring International Raceway. This weekend, it will close. In that time, 47 drivers have taken part in at least one of the races. Twelve drivers have at least one race victory in their class.
Al Holbert Cup
Friday is historically significant for Porsche in North America. Not only will it see the crowning of champions in each Porsche Carrera Cup class but also the awarding of the Al Holbert Cup to the overall champion of the series. The Al Holbert Cup recognizes Holbert’s commitment, inspiration and leadership in the formation and organization of Porsche motorsports in North America. The silver cup carrying his name has been crafted as a timeless and traditional trophy to commemorate each Pro class champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America starting with this inaugural season in 2021.
Making the award even more poignant, it will be presented on the same day the affable leader died in a small aircraft accident in 1988, 34 years ago on Sept. 30.
Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich Makes North American Debut
The top Pro class talent of Porsche Carrera Cup North America will have a firsthand look at the competition they could face at the peak of the international Porsche one-make ladder, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, at Road Atlanta. Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich will take the wheel of the 311RS Motorsport No. 12 Porsche this weekend. Having recently completed the Supercup season with a third-place finish in the championship, Heinrich – named as a Porsche Junior in December 2021 – will run in the special Invitational class. Like NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon did at the most recent two rounds at Porsche Sports Car Together Fest earlier this month, Heinrich will be eligible for podium results within the Pro class but will not be eligible for championship points.
Fifteen, nearly half, of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars entered this weekend are in the Pro class. The intense competition at the sharp end of the field comes with overall championship implications.
Kay van Berlo, last year’s Pro class runner-up, has collected a total of six wins in 2022, most in the class, behind the wheel of the No. 3 Kelly Moss Porsche. He has three more podium finishes, seven pole positions and seven fastest race laps.
But with four wins, three pole positions and one fastest race lap, Parker Thompson (No. 9 JDX Racing) is just 11 points behind van Berlo. Forty points from the leader is Trenton Estep (No. 6 MDK Motorsports). Riley Dickinson (No. 53 Kelly Moss) is the last driver with a shot at the title, trailing van Berlo by 47 points.
Echoing the thrilling battle to the last corner of the 2021 season, Kelly Moss teammates Alan Metni (No. 99) and Efrin Castro (No. 65) are again the final contenders for the Pro-Am title. Last year, Castro – then racing for another team – made a late-season charge on Metni. The two enter the final two races this season with Metni leading by 14 points.
While technically out of title contention, Marco Cirone (No. 84 Mark Motors Racing) could play foil for victories in the 13-car Pro-Am class for drivers between the ages of 36 and 57.
Midway through the season, general opinion was that Mark Kvamme (No. 43 MDK Motorsports) would march away with the Am championship. However, the nine-time race winner missed the Toronto rounds, opening the opportunity for John Goetz (No. 57 Wright Motorsports) and Bill Smith (No. 42 Topp Racing) to close the gap in the class for drivers ages 57 and older.
Entering the final race weekend, Kvamme leads Goetz by 16 points and Smith by 58. They are the only drivers with a chance to secure the Am championship in the seven-car class.
Of a possible 42 class wins, Kelly Moss has 17 coming from van Berlo, Dickinson, Metni and Castro. JDX Racing has four wins and is 35 points behind the 2021 champions. With three victories, MDK Motorsports is 38 points off the lead. Points are awarded only to the highest placing team car overall, regardless of class.
Where to Watch
Races are scheduled for 5 p.m. ET Thursday and 10:55 a.m. Friday. Both will stream live on IMSA.com/TVLive with IMSA Radio commentary.